Secrets offer surprises to bar patrons in the know
Tucked down a nondescript alley in Chinatown, you will find one of Perth’s newest bars . . . or maybe you won’t.
The location is secret and there is no sign, just a grey door with a sliding peephole. If you don’t have the regularly changed password, you won’t get in.
But if you can find it and if you can track down the magic words online, when that door swings open you will find yourself inside a Prohibition-style honky-tonk rum bar.
Sneaky Tony’s, which opened late last year, is the newest venture from trailblazing bar owner Clint Nolan and takes the concept of the hidden bar to the next level.
As well as mirroring the speakeasies of the Prohibition era, the clandestine approach, “gives people an opportunity to discover something for themselves”.
“It is a bit of a challenge but when they find it, it becomes partly theirs, ” Mr Nolan said.
“That’s what’s great about exploring a city. You find a space and you tell people, ‘I went to this great place down a laneway’. You want to show your friends.”
Mr Nolan also recently opened a pop-up called Joe Jnr down a Northbridge laneway near William Street. Modelled on an American rock’n’roll dive bar, it will be there for six months or so to test the appetite.
Hidden bars have sprung up all over Perth in recent years. Well- established examples include Helvetica in the city and Ezra Pound in Northbridge — but some also have extra “secret” offerings for those in the know.
At The Laneway Lounge, if you say the magic words the bar staff will present you with its “little black book”: a special menu of 1920s-style cocktails.
Down the unmarked staircase under the Norfolk Hotel, the Odd Fellow honours its live music roots by having local bands play.
Sometimes regulars get more than they bargained for: on a Wednesday night pop favourites San Cisco played a surprise gig, previewing songs from their next album.
Owner Garry Gosatti said the bar did no promotion, so only 100 lucky patrons and friends of the band saw the show.
He said the approach at Odd Fellow was about cultivating a spontaneous, inclusive and intimate feeling.
It also doesn’t have a set drinks menu, just 300-plus spirits and experienced bartenders.
“We have seen the corporatisation of the hospitality scene and venues that have a homogenised nature, ” Mr Gosatti said.
“People are looking for more than that. They want an experience. With a small and intimate bar, it is much more dynamic.
“You can change on a daily basis if you choose to and your regular clientele get to participate.”
© The West Australian
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